surgical procedure

For many individuals diagnosed with severe cases of scoliosis, the only available treatment option is spinal fusion surgery. This, of course, can be quite daunting and worrying, especially if the patient is young or has never undergone any sort of surgical procedure before.

The bone graft applied during spinal fusion surgery causes the bones in the spine to fuse together over a period of time. This fusion aims to stop movement between the vertebrae, providing long-term stability within the spine.

Spinal fusion has just a 2-3% risk of complications; however, as with any other surgical procedure, problems do occasionally arise once the operation is complete. If you’re thinking of undergoing spinal fusion surgery for your scoliosis and would like to know more about possible long-term side effects, here are some of the things you may potentially experience.

 

Failed Back Surgery Syndrome (FBSS)

One of the most common problems encountered after spinal fusion surgery – or any type of surgery involving the back – is failed back surgery syndrome. This is a misnomer; FBSS is not actually a ‘syndrome’ but a very generalised term that is often used to describe the condition of patients who have not had a successful result with spinal or back surgery and have experienced continued pain post-surgery.

Surgeons are not able to physically ‘cut out’ the pain felt by patients. They are only able to alter the patient’s anatomy. In most cases, the number one reason why back and spinal surgeries are not effective (and have to be repeated) is because the area that was operated on was not actually the cause of the patient’s pain.

 

Pseudarthrosis

Pseudarthrosis of the spine can result from a failed spinal fusion and may occur at any place where spinal fusion was attempted. It presents itself as either a pain in the neck or back (axial) area or radical (arm and leg) pain that occurs months or years after a previous spinal fusion.

During spinal fusion surgery, if the bones do not fuse together properly through the bone graft, then motion may continue across that area. For some individuals, the motion can cause pain similar to that of a broken bone that never heals.

Patients with metabolic disorders such as diabetes are at increased risk for the development of pseudarthrosis. Smoking is a common risk factor. Some surgeons may even refuse to operate on smokers as it poses such a great risk for failed fusion. Other factors of failure include obesity, chronic steroid use, osteoporosis and malnutrition.

The choice and use of fusion material, number of fusion levels, surgical technique and instrumentation have also all been shown to influence the rate of success and impact quality of life after spinal fusion.

 

Infection

Infection is another problem that can sometimes occur after spinal fusion surgery. Infections can be classified by the anatomical location involved: either the vertebral column, the spinal canal, intervertebral disc space or the adjacent soft tissues. Infection may occur as a result of bacteria or fungal organisms; most post-surgery infections occur between three days and three months after the operation.

Vertebral osteomyelitis is the most common form of spinal infection, developing from direct open spinal trauma, infections in surrounding areas, and from bacteria that spreads from the blood to the vertebrae.

Other common problems that can occur as a result of spinal fusion surgery are:

  • Bleeding
  • Anaesthetic complications
  • Paralysis (very rare)

 

Alternatives to spinal fusion surgery

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we have had success in treating patients who have been diagnosed with severe scoliosis (40-50 degrees and over) with our non-surgical, exercise-based ScolioGold programme. If you’re worried about some of the potential long-term side effects of spinal fusion surgery, and you’d like to try non-surgical treatment first, be sure to get in touch with us.

 

Spinal fusion recovery

If, however, you have already undergone surgery but are still experiencing some pain, our physical therapy programme can still help you.

How We Can Help with Spinal Fusion Recovery >

scoliosis stress

We all experience stress in our daily lives, but for people with scoliosis, stressful and upsetting feelings are often intensified.

Today, we’re going to look at the different stresses commonly faced by scoliosis patients to establish why they occur and how we can help our patients to fight them.

 

Body Image

Scoliosis can have a noticeable effect on the way your body looks. Uneven hips and shoulders are a common symptom and can leave you feeling uncomfortable in your own skin.

Many scoliosis patients are young children or teenagers (this is when idiopathic scoliosis most commonly develops), so patients often feel ‘different’ to their friends and peers. Children can be really cruel and are known to exploit anything that makes other children ‘stand out’, so bullying and teasing can be a real problem.

A lot of people with scoliosis think their curve looks much more dramatic than it actually does! But nonetheless, body image can be a real cause of stress.

How Does Scoliosis Affect Your Body Image?   Body Image Research: View Our Infographic

 

Managing Body Image Stress

If you’re unhappy with the way your scoliosis makes you look, there are steps that you can take. Our exercise-based treatment courses are a great way to develop your confidence while reducing the visibility of your curve.

We use a combination of different methods (including the Schroth Method and the FITS Method) to make your body more symmetrical and to improve your posture and strength. These exercises can be repeated at home and, if practised regularly, can help to reduce body image stress.

When you visit the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, you’ll meet a group of other people with scoliosis, many of whom are also struggling with their body image. Talking to these people who are going through the same thing as you (and may even look very similar to you) can really help you to manage the stress around your body image.

Book a Consultation >

 

Surgery Stress

Another stress that people with scoliosis often face is directly related to the fear of surgery. Spinal fusion is a daunting and invasive procedure, and while complications are rare, risks do exist.

Other surgery-related stresses include:

  • Missing school and events
  • How your surgery scar will look
  • Pain and the recovery process

But the stress associated with scoliosis surgery can be avoided. Many of the patients who visit our clinic choose our exercise-based therapy as an alternative to spinal fusion surgery, and they see significant improvements! We have helped scoliosis patients from all over the globe – if you want to hear some of their incredible stories, click the button below.

Scoliosis Patient Stories >

We also work with patients who have recently had spinal fusion surgery to reduce stress and speed up the recovery process. Learn more about this here.

If you have any questions about our treatment plans, or if you need help coping with scoliosis stress – reach out and get in touch! We look forward to hearing from you.

Hyperkyphosis surgery

‘You need surgery’ isn’t something you ever want to hear. But for some individuals diagnosed with hyperkyphosis, surgery may be the only viable option to improve their condition and reduce their back pain. Non-surgical treatment methods such as physical therapy are often explored before resorting to surgery; however, if the symptoms of kyphosis are still causing problems after a certain amount of time, doctors may recommend an operation.

Other criteria that are taken into consideration include:

  • Curve progression – If the curve of the spine is getting gradually worse, doctors may suggest surgery to correct the curve and halt the progression.
  • Curve severity – In the thoracic spine (upper back), curves that exceed 80 degrees are considered severe. In the thoracolumbar spine (mid-low back), curves greater than 60-70 degrees are classed as severe.
  • Neurological symptoms – Hyperkyphosis can affect the nerves in the spinal cord as a result of spinal changes (e.g. vertebral fractures, which may cause pinched nerves). This can result in numbness, weakness and tingling feelings. In severe cases, the patient may experience bladder or bowel dysfunction.
  • Balance – Due to the spine curving forward in kyphosis, patients may have difficulty standing up straight. If a case of kyphosis results in individuals leaning forward too far, making it difficult to complete everyday tasks, surgery may be needed to rebalance the spine.

The main aims of hyperkyphosis surgery are:

  1. Decrease pain and any neurological symptoms experienced
  2. Reduce deformity
  3. Stop the curve from getting any worse

A number of different surgical procedures may be used, including:

Osteotomy

Osteotomy is a surgical procedure that involves the cutting and reshaping of bones. For individuals who have been diagnosed with hyperkyphosis, osteotomy realigns the bone ends in their spine and allows them to heal. Spinal instrumentation and fusion may then be used to stabilise the spine during the healing process.

Spinal Fusion

Once the spine has been realigned through an osteotomy, surgeons are required to stabilise and help it to heal in its new position. To do this, the surgeon will create an area where the bones in the spine fuse together over a period of time (typically several months) using a bone graft. This fusion aims to prevent movement between the vertebrae, providing more long-term stability within the spine. Based on the severity and location of the kyphosis curve, the surgeon will dictate whether the spinal fusion is performed from the front (anterior approach) or the back (posterior approach).

Balloon kyphoplasty

Kyphoplasty is a minimally-invasive treatment that’s performed through a number of very small incisions. Here, a special orthopaedic balloon is placed into the compressed vertebra and then inflated in an attempt to return the vertebra to the correct height and position. The balloon creates an empty space in the vertebra which is filled with a special surgical cement. This helps to stabilise the spine.

 

Hyperkyphosis surgery risks

As with any other surgical procedure, kyphosis surgery does carry some risks that you should be aware of before you decide to go under the knife. These include:

  • Infection
  • Blood clots
  • Instrumentation becoming loose or breaking
  • Development of a secondary curve

 

Treating hyperkyphosis without surgery

If you don’t like the idea of having surgery, you’ll be pleased to learn that it is often possible to treat Scheuermann’s disease and other forms of hyperkyphosis without any invasive procedures. Here at Scoliosis SOS, we offer world-class therapy in the form of our ScolioGold programme, which helps to straighten the back, reduce feelings of pain and improve overall quality of life.

We can also help individuals who have already undergone hyperkyphosis surgery. Our combination of proven treatment methods can help to speed up the recovery process, easing the pain experienced post-surgery, improving mobility and correcting any secondary curves that may have developed above or below the fusion.

If you would like to find out more about why our treatment courses are a great alternative to surgery, please contact Scoliosis SOS and book an initial consultation with one of our scoliosis consultants, who will more than happy to recommend the best course of action for you.

Get in Touch >

Here at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic, we are lucky to have met – and proud to have treated – so many patients from all around the world. We strive to provide first-class non-surgical scoliosis treatment that enables our patients to avoid potentially invasive spinal fusion surgery.

Our Schroth-based ScolioGold treatment method has changed the lives of so many people from different parts of the globe, but now, thanks to the opening of our brand new Bristol clinic, we are able to provide our therapy-based scoliosis treatment to more people right here in the UK!

Our expansion into the South West enables individuals who have been diagnosed with scoliosis in or near Bristol to receive care and advice regarding their condition from our experienced and qualified practitioners – without the need to visit our flagship clinic in London.

Here are several scoliosis patients from Bristol whom we’ve already treated:

Scoliosis sisters from Bristol

Rachel & Rebekah Manning

Rachel and Rebekah Manning were both physically active teenagers who enjoyed taking part in swimming, football and athletics when they started to experience episodes of severe back pain. They were soon diagnosed with scoliosis and were told that they’d each have to undergo a nine-hour operation to correct it. After extensive research, they found out about the Scoliosis SOS Clinic and the non-surgical treatment we offer.

Read Rachel & Rebekah’s Scoliosis Story >

 

Nadia and Zaria article

Nadia & Zaria Chowdhury

Nadia, 26, became aware of her scoliosis when she started to experience difficulties at university. Her sister Zaria, 18, also started to suffer difficulties with walking before being diagnosed. When chiropractic treatment proved too expensive and other forms of therapy such as osteopathy didn’t work, they decided to try one last method of treatment to avoid spinal surgery.

Nadia and Zaria’s Scoliosis Story >

 

Amy Hewson on house

Amy Hewson

After suffering a severe episode of pain whilst on a school skiing trip, Amy (15) underwent an operation to remove her appendix. This was when her mother noticed one of her ribs sticking out slightly below her left breast. Worried, Amy’s mother took her to see their GP, who referred Amy to a specialist. She was later diagnosed with a 53-degree curve in her spine. As a result of her condition, Amy was told that her dream of owning a horse may have to be put off due to the dangers of falling off a horse after receiving spinal fusion surgery, the traditional treatment for scoliosis. Amy refused to consider surgery and sought out other treatment methods instead.

Amy Hewson’s Scoliosis Story >

 

Thanks to our newly-opened Bristol clinic, patients just like Amy now won’t have to make the journey to London to receive treatment for their scoliosis.

Learn About Our Bristol Scoliosis Clinic >

If you have been diagnosed with scoliosis and would like to learn more about our non-invasive, exercise-based treatment course, please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Surgical team at work

Being diagnosed with scoliosis is a life-changing experience. It can then be even more life-changing when you are told that your curved spine can only be corrected with spinal fusion surgery.

What Happens During Scoliosis Surgery?

If you’ve never had surgery before and you’re hearing about how the operation is performed for the first time, it’s perfectly natural to feel a little worried. Whether you’re considering the possibility of surgery or you’ve already had the operation, we at the Scoliosis SOS Clinic can help you.

 

Pre-spinal fusion treatment

Here at Scoliosis SOS, we provide scoliosis patients with physiotherapy-based treatment that aims to reduce their Cobb angle measurement. Our ScolioGold treatment programme combines the Schroth method with an assortment of other well-established therapeutic techniques from around the world, including:

  • FITS Method
  • PNF Technique
  • SEAS Method
  • Taping
  • Myofascial Release
  • Osteopathy
  • Trigger Point Therapy
  • Medical Acupuncture

This ensures that all aspects of the patient’s condition are addressed.

By increasing the range of motion in the back and strengthening the muscles around your spine, our pre-spinal fusion treatment aims to reduce the severity of your spinal curve, often meaning that surgery is no longer required at all.

 

Post-spinal fusion treatment

If you have already undergone spinal fusion surgery, our exercise-based therapy can still benefit you. Common problems after spinal fusion surgery include infection, pseudarthrosis and failed back surgery syndrome (FBSS), all of which can result in continued episodes of pain and discomfort as well as reduced mobility. If you are experiencing any of these issues in the wake of your spinal fusion surgery, our treatment courses may help to alleviate your symptoms.

But even if the operation went perfectly, it often takes a long time to fully recover from spinal fusion surgery. ScolioGold treatment can help to speed up this process whilst limiting several other post-op issues you may have. Our treatment plan is great for:

  • Reducing back pain
  • Improving mobility
  • Speeding up the correction of your spinal curve
  • Correct any secondary curvatures that may have progressed or developed above/below the fusion

Watch the video below to hear from one of our past patients, Rachel, who had surgery for her scoliosis and unfortunately experienced post-surgery complications. A number of years after her first operation, Rachel was told that another curve was developing in a different part of her spine and would require further surgery. Hoping to avoid having to go through this again, Rachel began to look for alternatives.

Rachel’s story is a great example of how our treatment can be utilised by post-surgery patients to address various issues they may encounter. Thanks to her 4-week ScolioGold treatment course, Rachel was able to avoid a second appointment with the surgeon.

If you would like to learn more about how our scoliosis treatment course can help you either pre- or post-spinal fusion surgery, please do not hesitate to get in touch today.

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